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Volleyball News & Highlights

November 15, 2013

Eagles Fly Past Blue Jays; Move On To CNU

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Senior Kearby Benak attempts one of her 10 kills in Friday's win over Johns Hopkins.

HUNTINGDON, Pa.--Eastern Volleyball advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament with a 25-13, 25-23. 25-16 win over the Johns Hopkins University Blue Jays on Friday.

The Eagles took the match in three sets thanks to a dramatic comeback in the second set. 

Eastern cruised in the first set 25-13, holding Hopkins to .037 hitting in the first set. In the second set, the Eagles trailed 17-23 but stormed back with eight straight points to win the set. Eagles' freshman Stephanie Elechko started the rally with a kill in the middle. Junior Amy Guarino then stepped to the line and served an ace, cutting Johns Hopkins lead to four. The Blue Jays called timeout at that point, but recorded an attack error right after the timeout. Guarino served another ace to bring Eastern within three and then a muffed set by Johns Hopkins made it a two-point game. The Blue Jays took their second timeout to which Eastern's Amy Guarino responded with another ace, tying the game at 23-23.

Eagles' setter Rikki Schlager found Katrina Pisch for the kill to give Eastern the lead. The Eagles completed the comeback with another Blue Jays' attack error. Guarino finished with four aces in the match. Guarino said that she might have been a little nervous in that big spot, but said she knew that her teammates were supporting her. "I knew when I was going in that I had to be confident and focus on serving the ball into the court," she said.

Eagles' head coach Mark Birtwistle said that in the timeout before the Eagles made their run, he just needed to light a little fire underneath them. "I congratulate the team for responding," he said. "They know how to play the game, they're great athletes, but sometimes you have to remind them that this is what they've trained for, so let's go out and do it."

After demoralizing the Blue Jays in the second set, the Eagles controlled the third set. They jumped out to a 9-4 lead and led by as many as 10 (20-10). The Blue Jays strung a few points together at the end, but the Eagles held them off and Elechko finished the match with a kill. 

Elechko finished with five kills. Sophomore Erin Hillman led the Eagles with 13 kills while hitting .632 (13 kills, 1 error, 19 attempts). Hillman credited her teammates for helping set up her attacks. "Our defense did a really good job getting passing, and Rikki did a really good job distributing," she said, "and all of our hitters did a good job putting the ball away." 

Senior Kearby Benak tallied 10 kills on 20 attempts and contributed nine digs. Juniors Lauren Sproles and Katrina Pisch added seven kills. Schlager passed for 37 assists, and libero Rylie Haas dug out 18 attacks.

Eastern finished the match with a .384 hitting percentage.

They will face the Christopher Newport University at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. CNU defeated Cabrini in five sets on Friday.

Box Score

Updated: Saturday, 16 November 2013

Coaches

Mark Birtwistle

Mark Birtwistle

Coach Birtwistle has won more than 500 games and 16 Conference Championships as Eastern's Volleyball Coach

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